STEELEYE Span, may have been going for 50 years, but the members who make up that group have changed a lot over the years.

The only founding member of the band that brought British folk music to mainstream audiences that has remained (almost) constant throughout is lead vocalist, Maddy Prior.

“I consider it like a family firm really,” Maddy said of the band’s continually changing line-up.

“Most of us have been in the band more than once, because we might leave but we do come back.”

This year they played the Glastonbury Festival and released their 23rd album, Est’d 1969, to mark their 50th anniversary.

Bands with 50 years behind them often seem to be a regurgitation of past glories with an occasional cover added on, but Steeleye Span have bucked that trend.

The albums they released in their 70s and 80s heyday were mostly made up of modern takes on centuries-old folk songs, whereas their most recent albums consist mainly of original material.

Maddy thinks that it may be this frequent updating that has kept them feeling fresh so long after their inception.

“At the moment we’ve got players from jazz, classical, heavy rock, and they kind of work it into what we’re already doing.

“It’s still folk, but it’s another aspect that we hadn’t thought of.”

Behind Maddy, the next longest serving member of the band is drummer Liam Genockey, who has been with them since the 80s.

Steeleye Span’s Hastings show (on November 21) will be a homecoming show for Genockey, as well as new bassist Roger Carey and violinist Peter Knight, all of whom hail from the seaside town.

“We’ve got a long tradition of members from the South East,” Maddy commented. “It’s part of our map, if you like.”

Accordingly, Maddy seems enthused by the idea of returning to perform in nearby Brighton.

“Oh yeah, I like Brighton, it’s great, very cool isn’t it? It’s got a lot of culture, there’s always something happening. There’s lot of very aware young people in terms of what’s going on in the wider world. That’s not true of the whole country.”

Steeleye Span sprang to fame in the 1970s, continuing the folk resurgence that was started by Fairport Convention, the band whose ashes gave birth to Steeleye Span.

“Fairport Convention had made an album called Liege & Leaf, which had traditional music with a band format. They didn’t want to continue with it so (bass player) Ashley Hutchings decided to leave and form a band that did exclusively that. He came to dinner with Tim Hart and I, asked if we wanted to join, and that was that.”

And so the British Folk Rock movement began. The movement briefly threatened to take over the mainstream in the mid-70s when the Steeleye Span album All Around My Hat reached the top five of the charts.

In 2013, the band released their new album Wintersmith in collaboration with Sir Terry Pratchett. Based on Pratchett’s Wintersmith novel, the subject matter was completely appropriate for Steeleye Span, a tale of ancient rituals and secret folk dances that perfectly complemented their previous work while taking it in new directions.

For the band’s 50th anniversary tour, Maddy says audiences can expect some of the old, some of the new.

“Steeleye Span has a massive amount of energy at the moment as we have all these young players who have joined us and are discover this music,” Maddy said. “People are saying it’s the best we’ve sounded for years. If you don’t like folk, come anyway.”

Steeleye Span will play Hastings’ St Mary in the Castle on November 21 and Brighton Dome on December 12.